My last few days have featured playing a plethora of games, decorating the school with paper snowballs and snowmen, exchanging gifts with students and teachers, laughing almost to the point of crying, devouring hearty meals, watching countless dances to English Christmas carols, hearing ‘Frosty the Snowman’ blaring through the warm streets of Ranong and playing the pivotal role of ‘Foreigner’ in a movie directed by Thai high school students. Even though Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, aspects of Christmas are celebrated, albeit in a strange slightly tokenistic manner. It’s been fantastic to escape the consumerist hype that dominates this time of the year in other countries though. The bizarre abundance of snow related decorations and music is bemusing, especially considering my family and friends in Australia and New Zealand will be celebrating Christmas in summer weather as well.
Stepping outside all the hype, consumerism and indulgence, the Christmas holiday period is a perfect time to relax and reflect on the year that has been. My 2017 began in Bosnia and Herzegovina, visiting the incredible snow shrouded pyramids in Visoko and will end in a National Park in southern Thailand. It’s been a roller coaster of a year where I’ve moved continents (twice), wrapped up old chapters and embraced new ones afresh, said farewells and formed new friendships. A year of contrasts, learning and exploration.
The pyramids in Bosnia and Herzegovina and rainforest in Thailand
A year ago, this blog hadn’t entered my consciousness. 15 blog posts later, 35 of you follow me (thank you) and many others read my posts around the world. I’ve watched with fascination as my blog is viewed by people in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Czech Republic, Canada, Thailand, India, Portugal, Brazil and elsewhere (written in descending order). A big thank you to all of you for supporting this initiative, especially for your comments and suggestions. Thanks to my unofficial proof readers (my father and adventure buddy Amelia Calvert), as well as my unofficial publicist @veenaji, who consistently shares my posts on social media.
I hope you have enjoyed the range of sustainability related topics I’ve written about, including global water issues, our wasteful society, food waste, the ethics of the Thai fishing industry and air travel, and the interactions between people and nature. I hope to encourage people to get outside of their comfort zone, to consider prejudices in society and approach each new challenge with love. I hope you’ve been inspired, learnt a little and thought a lot.
Wishing you all a happy Christmas, wherever you are in the world, whether you are drinking whiskey by the fire, having adventures in snowy mountains, enjoying barbecues on the beach, or are in a country where Christmas isn’t really celebrated. Relax, reflect and recharge for the upcoming new year. In the Māori words of my homeland Aotearoa:
Me te rangimarie
Tätou tätou e
Love, hope and peace to you all